In a country whose name keeps changing, a woman longs to return to an imaginary past. Part fiction, part biography, part fairy-tale, Weave is a photograph that fell onto the rails when the story-teller changed trains. Or perhaps it slipped into the waves of the lake when her two-seater plane took off. Or she tore it into pieces and buried it in the woods, to keep it safe. Now she’s searching for her lost identity, from the banks of the Danube, to the port of Istanbul, to the frozen edge of Lake Ontario. She’s looking for some fragment of home to give meaning to her pile of passports, left like ghosts in the bottom of a drawer.
Short-listed for Alberta Book Awards Trade Fiction Book Award
Weave reads as a memoir of the twentieth century in a world bounded by Prague and Peru and the Russian Front and the shores of Lake Ontario. The narrator is a traveler and an exile, and she seems to be perpetually in transit. Her brother Wilhelm serves as mythical interlocutor, and we are led by their sibling love into and out of the darkness of Europe. Weave is quite simply a masterpiece: there is more in these eighty odd pages than in most novels.
One thinks immediately of Mavis Gallant’s Paris Notebooks, for example, as Pasold distills journalling or lifewriting to good effect.
Pasold’s ability to capture the personal, the political and societal expectations of an era is impressive; the narrator telling stories “on an aeroplane or in a train compartment, as if we are hurtling / through a tunnel and / neither of us knows what is on the other side.”
Titles such as “there is no explanation suitable for a girl of 13 burdened by intellect,” “the reason I didn’t get a balcony” and “it was in Paris I bought Josephine Baker’s old shoes” adorn Weave’s delicious, at times cryptic narrative of a woman tracing her past. … This book addresses the complexities of war, nationality and national identity in the simple but clever accounts from a woman’s memory.
The book fascinates on both narrative and lyric levels. Pasold never confuses feeling with sentiment, and she has a gift for memorable images which work together to form a poetic vocabulary … This book’s a keeper, one you’ll reread and read aloud.
A fictional memoir, it almost achieves the reach and breadth of the roman a clef or rites of passage novel and alternates between the intimate first-person monologue and more distant analytical lens of second person, creating the patchwork quilt and embroidery of the title.
Lisa Pasold’s language is so piercing and compassionate it made me catch my breath, and her knowledge of myth, symbol and history are as impressive as her understanding of the human heart. Individually, these are poems of great beauty and ferocity; read as a fictional memoir they are a myth-embroidered memory quilt; a narrative not only of a fascinating woman, full of exile, longing, and wit, but of a defining period in history. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Weave is a book of poems that reads like a superb novel, flows like a thrilling movie, and is marked by moments of consummate wit and lyricism. Telling the story of an unforgettable 20th century life, Lisa Pasold has created compelling 21st-century poetry. Her Prague-born protagonist’s journey – through love, war, exile and the harrowing way station of memory – is, indeed, a beautifully-layered, intricately-textured and expertly-cut cloth. With this collection, Pasold surely establishes herself as one of the best younger Canadian poets now writing.
About the Author
Lisa Pasold has been thrown off a train in Belarus, been fed the world’s best pigeon pie in Marrakech, mushed huskies in the Yukon, learned to polka at Danceland, and been cheated in the Venetian gambling halls of Ca’ Vendramin Calergi. She grew up in Montreal, which gave her the necessary jaywalking skills to survive as a journalist. She currently divides her time between a tiny house in Paris and various borrowed addresses in Toronto.
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